Nano Assault EX is an enhanced port of the 2012 3DS game, Nano Assault. Like the original, EX is a good-looking game, and everything that worked last year continues to work now. The nanite ship feels extremely responsive, the varied stages make for a fun campaign, and the boss fights are a standout.
Instead of a standard shooter where the player must avoid bullets and obstacles on a 2D plane, in Nano Assault a cell is the play field. The player needs to be more aware of his surroundings, as shots can and will come from any direction. Stages have multiple objectives and play modes.
Sometimes the player is collecting DNA strands and shooting enemies on a 3D cell surface. Sometimes the view is fixed, and the player circle-strafes around a large boss. And sometimes the nanite ship is on rails, while the player must dodge and survive against waves of incoming enemies. The varied gameplay really makes the campaign fun to play. This makes players blast through it, however, and realize just how few stages there are in the game: the entire run can be completed in just a few hours.
The EX version doesn’t only sport upgraded graphics. It also supports Nintendo’s Circle Pad Pro, making Nano Assault EX a true twin-stick shooter instead of one that feels like cellular Robotron 2084. Nano Assault is perfectly playable with the face buttons used for shooting, but if you have a Circle Pad Pro, it’s definitely the preferred way to play.
Analog shooting is better than digital, though I do appreciate that the nanite ship can fire on diagonals when using the face buttons. A survival mode is also added to the original title, and while it’s fun Nano Assault’s real faults are a short campaign and a world that the player never really feels a part of as the story serves only to ferry the player from one level to the next.
Nano Assault EX is great for score-chasing, and the boss rush mode is challenging. EX is a solid upgrade from the original, and being digital makes the game feel a bit more substantial. It’s a great short-burst game, so having it right there on the menu without tying up the 3DS slot means that you can play Nano Assault EX when there are a few spare minutes in your schedule regardless of the 3DS cartridge you’re carrying around.
Pros: Upgraded graphics look great, Circle Pad Pro controls are a great fit
Cons: Campaign is very short, story never feels compelling